Elizabeth M. (Elizabeth Meriwether) Gilmer.

My joy-ride round the world online

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JACK LONDON. By Charmian London (Mrs
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Published ig22

Printed in Great Britain
ly Turnbull <5r» Shears, Edinburgh

Copyright in the United States of America



I. The Fire Mountain of Hawaii .
II. Japan the Beautiful .

III. The Japanese at Home

IV. The Finest Temple in the East
V. The Heart of Old Japan .

VI. Odd Corners of the Flowery Kingdom
VII. Farewell to Japan ....
VIII. Quaint Little Korea
IX. Manchuria, the Chinese Cold Storage
X. Imperial Purple Peking
XI. Glimpses of the New China
XII. Hong-Kong. A City built in Shelves
XIII. The City of Unbelievable Sights

XIV. The Philippines, Uncle Sam's White Elephant 133

XV. Singapore, the Eastern Elysium
XVI. Java, where the Tropics are Tamed
XVII. Java, Colonized and Careworn .












XVIII. Burma, the Centre of Oriental Splendour 165

XIX. Calcutta, the English Heart of India




XX. The Ganges, India's Holy River . . 183

XXI. The Jewel Box of India .... 193

XXII. Dark Passages in India's History . . 202

XXIII. "Where there ain't no Ten Commandments" 211

XXIV. " A Great and Terrible Land " . . 220
XXV. A Land of Temples and Elephants . . 229


Dorothy Dix ...... Frontispiece

The Great Diabutsu at Kamakura . Facing page 30

Temple at Nikko ..... ,, 47

Korean Yan Ban ..... „ 80

Bound Foot of Chinese Woman . . ,, 123

Bridge between Shameen Island and Canton ,, 129

Philippinos at Home .... ,, 133

Fast Transportation, Manila ... „ 137

Calcutta, the English Heart of India . ,, 174

Site of the " Black Hole " of Calcutta „ 176

Ganges River, Benares . . . . ,, 189

The Taj Mahal and Reflection in Jumna River ,, 193

Saint's Tomb at Fatehpur Sikri . . ,, 199

Baillie Gate, Lucknow .... „ 204

Jain Temple, Calcutta . . . . ,, 222

Ceylon. Taming a Wild Elephant . ,, 235




My joy-ride around the world really began on a rainy
Saturday afternoon in New York. It had been a
ghastly day, and as I looked, for the hundredth time,
across a sodden court at the fourteen rows of dull and
staring windows in the opposite wall, that always made
me think of the eyes in an idiot's face, I had a swift
revulsion against it all, and I realized that I was sick
of the great city, sick of my work, sickest of all of
myself, and that there was no health in me.

Then it was that the little Cherub Who Sits Up Aloft
and Rules My Destiny whispered in my ear :

" You have always intended to make a trip around
the world. Go now. All your life you have heard
the East a-callin'. Once you answered it, and you
remember the fun you had. Go again, and do not
stop with Japan. Go and listen to the tinkly temple
bells of Mandalay, buy Mandarin coats in Embroidery
Street in Pekin and amber in Korea. Watch the
faithful come down to bathe in the Ganges, and see the
brown dancing girls of Java. Go."

" Fine idea," I responded; " but how is a lone lorn
woman, such as I am, to invade the Orient by herself ? "

" Your favourite tourist agency is advertising its
first around the world tour since the great war," said
the Cherub persuasively.

" Good," said I, " I go."


And being a sudden lady, with so little mind it never
takes me more than a quarter of a minute to make
it up on any subject, I made a frantic raid on my closet
for hat, and rubbers, and raincoat, and umbrella, and
in ten minutes I was virtually on the first lap of my
joy-ride around the world, for within the hour I had
bought my ticket for the great adventure.

Thereafter ensued a month of frantic struggle with
the State Department over a passport, and with dress-
makers while I tried to guess what sort of clothes I
would need in every possible variety of climate and
every known breed of hotels. Then the long flight
across the continent to San Francisco, where our little
party was to meet and set sail for the far parts of the

And then on a September morning, all blue and
silver, the big steamer pulled out from her berth amidst
a shower of confetti, and dropped through the Golden
Gate, and we were off at last, and at liberty to give
the once-over to the men and women whom chance had
ordained to be our most intimate companions for the
next ten months, and whom we were destined to know
far better than we knew our own sisters and brothers,
or the people we had lived next door to for the last
thirty years.

And let me say right here that I am strong for the
small party in travelling. Travelling alone brings to
one only the lonely desolation of the Wandering Jew.
For two to travel means that they get so fed up on each
other's society that they quarrel, and they tell you in
the Far East that when a couple of friends, or a husband
and wife, start out alone together to see the world, they
hardly ever reach as far as Hong-Kong, or Singapore,
on speaking terms with each other.

But in a small party there is enough variety to
give a change of companionship. Different personalities
strike different notes and see things from different angles.
There are intriguing life stories to hear on long and


tedious journeys, strange experiences to listen to on
dark nights when the ship ploughs through soft southern
seas ; and when you weary of nature you can always turn
with unalloyed zest to the contemplation of the human
nature of your fellow-travellers.

Travel is like marriage. It brings out the best and
the worst in people. You never really know anyone
until you have taken a trip with him or her, and so
I bear grateful tribute to the men and women whose
unfailing kindness and generosity and friendliness to
me, a stranger, made my joy-ride around the world the
thing of unalloyed delight it was.

The Hawaiian Islands are the first stopping-place out
from San Francisco. They are the half-way house of
the Pacific, where every ship that goes East or West
stops for coal and water, and fresh vegetables, and
fruit, and fish. Of course most vessels go direct to
Honolulu, but the better way to invade the paradise
of the Pacific is to go by way of Hilo, on the island of
Hawaii — that is, if you like your impressions, as I do
mine, sharp cut, vivid, with plenty of pep and punch
in them.

So, to get in its dynamic force all the mighty contrast
between heaven and hell, between the soft beauty of
the Hawaiian Islands as they are now, aeons of time
after they have been stewed up by internal fires from the
bottom of the sea, and the crude horror of what the world
was while still in the throes of creation, one should begin
by seeing the great volcano Kileaua, the largest active
volcano in the world.

It was in the early morning that our ship dropped
anchor in the harbour at Hilo. Instantly we were
surrounded by a fleet of outrider canoes, each manned
by two or three bronze Kanakas, with the wreaths of
flowers that they call leis around their necks, and bands
of gay feathers about their hats. On the dock a band
was playing the soft, sweet, haunting Hawaiian music ;
people who had come to meet friends on the boat cried


out " Aloha " to them, and cast leis of fragrant plumeria
blossoms over their heads ; and so through a scene
that was soul-satisfying, it was so exactly what it should
have been, we made our way to our automobiles for
the eighteen mile ride up to the volcano.

It is a wonderful ride. You leave the little city of
Hilo, quietly and complacently doing business, with the
tremor of earthquakes so commonplace that nobody
notices them, and unafraid with the menace of death
and destruction always in the air, and speed along
through Chinese and Japanese coolie villages, where
dainty-looking women in kimonos and obis, and trousers
and jackets, turn to look at you, and brown-faced, red-
cheeked children tuck their little hands in their sleeves
and bow gravely. On and on you go through rice fields
and sugar plantations and rows of coffee trees, and then
you strike into the jungle.

Here are great forests of koa trees, the Hawaiian
mahogany, and huge tree ferns, and tangles of snake-
like vines starred with great white blooms a foot long
the shape of trumpet flowers, and air-fed orchids, and a
thousand plants whose names you do not know.

The engine of your little flivver is now panting like a
one-lunger in Denver, for you are climbing the steep
grade of the side of Mauna Loa, Hawaii's greatest
mountain. Suddenly the tropical growth melts away.
Everything has a curse upon it. The ferns and trees
are yellow and sickly-looking, their leaves withered
and blighted, for some gust of wind has drifted the
poisonous breath of Pelee, the fire-goddess, across it,
and that blasts every living thing it touches.

A few miles farther and the trees stand stark and black
and dead, and then we go through acres and acres
of ashes. It is the abomination of desolation. A little
farther on and you are in the midst of the lava field,
great masses of twisted and contorted stuff that looks
as if it had been cast forth in agony in the birth pangs
of the world.


And then you get out of your automobile, which has
taken you to the very mouth of the pit, and look down
upon the most dramatic, the most awe-inspiring, the
most terrible and unforgettable scene on earth.

It is the literal hell of the Bible. It is the lake of
flames, the fire that burns for ever and is not quenched
by many waters. Below you spreads the great sheet
of molten matter, covered, for the most part, with a
repulsive greyish-yellow scum, like a foul pond, but
through this run ceaselessly ripples of flame, and as it
breaks apart in a thousand places you see the seething,
hideous fire beneath. At different places in the sea
of fire are great geysers of flame that shoot up into the
air fifty or a hundred feet and toss great boulders up
and down in them as a rubber ball is played in a fountain,
only to suck them down finally into the depths again.

The air is filled with fumes of sulphur and brimstone
that tear at your throat until you choke and gasp for
breath, but the horror and the fascination of it all holds
you speechless, with your conscience doing a lightning-
review act of your past life, and your fears turning
your feet to ice in spite of the hot lava upon which you
are standing. Maybe, you reflect, the higher criticism
isn't to be depended upon, and the Bible means what it
says, and there is such a hell as this, after all.

Apparently everybody else was resolving, as I was,
to lead a better life, for there was a dead silence until
I heard a man behind me say under his breath :

" My God ! my father was a Scotch Presbyterian
clergyman, and he preached hell-fire for fifty years with-
out seeing this ! But the old boy had figured out a
mighty accurate description of it. I'll tell the world
he had ! "

We went to a little hotel near the volcano for dinner.
The hotel-keeper explained that his greatest difficulty
was the lack of water, and when asked why he didn't
dig a well, he said cheerfully, " Oh, if we go down as
deep as seventy-five feet below the surface of the earth



we either get boiling water or flames." Which seemed
living too near to the judgment-day to be enticing to me.

Back again at night we went to see Kileaua with all
her spectacular fireworks turned on. The great lake
red like a pool of blood, the sulphur flames shooting
iridescent colours into the black velvet of the sky.
It was hours before I could tear myself away. I said
that I was coming back to stay until I had looked my
full upon the terrible majesty of the great fire goddess
Pelee, as the natives call the volcano.

" If you stay until you are satisfied you will never
leave," said a resident ; " once the volcano lays its
spell upon people they cannot go. They stay on and
on. Sometimes they go mad, and it draws them until
they plunge into its depths."

It is only a night's sail from Hilo to Honolulu, and the
next morning we passed the frowning fortress of Diamond
Head, and were throwing pennies from the deck of our
steamer to the lithe brown boys who swam out from
shore to meet us, and who dived for the coins as they
fell into the water and pouched them in their cheeks.

The Hawaiians are the real mermen and mermaidens.
They almost live in the water, and to see one come
in to shore on his surf board, standing erect while his
frail craft, about the size and shape of a housewife's
ironing board, leaps the white rollers on the Waikiki
beach, is to behold a feat so marvellous that you
almost doubt your own eyes.

Honolulu — pronounce it with a long o in the first
syllable — is the real melting-pot of our Eastern pos-
sessions, for it is there that all of the peoples of the
Orient mingle and are turned into more or less good
black-and-tan Americans.

There are sixty odd thousand people in the little city,
only about ten thousand of whom are white, the balance
being Hawaiians, Japanese, Chinese, Javanese, and
Singalese, and all sorts of other eeses, and this popula-
tion makes a place of singular charm and fascination,


unique among the cities of the earth, for all of the
different peoples live and dress according to the custom
of their own country.

Thus in Honolulu you can come pretty near to finding
everything the heart of man desires. It is the Orient
without its squalor and dirt and disease. It is the
tropics without their devastating heat, their miserable
food, their loathsome insects and reptiles. It is America
with its progress and its physical comforts, its fine
hotels and smart society, and without its mad hustle
and rush, and, above all, it is Honolulu itself with its
pervading charm, with its winds that are soft as a baby's
kiss, with its midnight skies that are like black velvet
pinned with diamond stars, with the beat of its surf
on coral reefs and the tinkle of the music of steel guitars
that is never quite out of the air.

There are not many stock sights to see in Honolulu.
Probably the most interesting is the splendid bronze
statue, standing in the principal street, of Kameha-
meha, because it typifies all early Hawaiian history.
Kamehameha was the George Washington of the islands.
He conceived the idea of uniting all of the islands under
one government, which he did by the effective process
of invading each one with a well-trained army and
conquering it. Oahu, the island on which Honolulu
is situated, put up a fierce struggle, but it surrendered
after its army had been driven back by Kamehameha's
troops until they were literally pushed over the Pali,
a cliff five hundred feet high.

Kamehameha gave to his people their first stable
government. He promoted agriculture, and punished
crime, and was one of the men who would have been a
great general and a great statesman in any age.

Another interesting place to visit in Honolulu is the
palace, now the government house, a big ornate frame
building with the curse of the jig-saw age upon it, and
curious round mirrors, set like plaques in the outside
wall. But within there is a noble and beautiful staircase


of the koa wood, that is so hard that a nail cannot be
driven into it, and that takes a most lovely satin polish,
while on the walls are portraits of the kings and queens
of the great monarchies of Europe sent as gifts to the
sister monarchs of the Hawaiian Islands when Hawaii
was a toy kingdom.

They show you the upper chambers in which Queen
Liliuokalini was imprisoned during the Revolution, and
in this palace, where she had reigned in life, she was laid
in state at her death, while the allis — the chiefs and
chieftainesses of the old native aristocracy — stood guard
over her, and wailed her according to the ancient custom.
From here they followed her to the tomb, bearing torches
of kukui nuts which they grounded, and extinguished,
and flung before her tomb in token that the Hawaiian
dynasty had gone out for ever.

But the chief interest in any country is its people,
and none are more intriguing than these big, gentle,
good-natured, childlike members of a fast-vanishing
race. The pure-bred Hawaiian will soon be as rare as
the pure-bred North American Indian, for the Hawaiians
are a fluid race which has mingled with the great tide
of foreign peoples who have swept over their island and
been engulfed by them.

Of course the rich Hawaiians live as do the rich people
anywhere. They have fine homes and motors, and send
their children to the States and Europe to be educated,
but in the country you may still see many glimpses of
the old life.

Here the people live in little thatched huts, and before
the door you can see an old man or an old woman engaged
in making poi, the native dish upon which the Hawaiians
mainly subsist. This is made of the taro plant, a variety
of the elephant ear that is the pride of the village front
yard in America. The root of the taro is boiled until
soft, and pounded on a board with a stone pestle until
it is reduced to a pulp. It is then put in a calabash,
a big gourd, and mixed with water, and allowed to


ferment for two or three days, when it is considered ready
to eat.

It smells and looks and tastes exactly like soured
bill-stickers' paste, but it is the most nourishing and
fattening article of food in the world. It is eaten by
sticking your fingers into it, winding the mess around
them and sucking it off, and is known as " one-finger
poi " or " two-finger poi," according to the thickness and
stickiness of it.

A calabash of poi is always on tap in the Hawaiian
household, and is partaken of from time to time by the
members of the family as they get hungry ; and as it
requires no dishes to serve it in, or dish-washing, or daily
cooking, it reduces life to a state of simplicity that house-
keepers of the West might well envy.

So does the dress of the Hawaiian woman. It is called
a holoku, and is a one-piece, Mother Hubbard-like
garment, that is said to have originated from the night-
gowns of the first missionaries who came to the islands.

According to tradition, when the natives, clad only
in smile of welcome and with a wreath of flowers about
their necks, rowed out in their outrider canoes to the ship
to welcome the strangers, the prim New England mis-
sionary ladies were greatly shocked at the deshabille
of the native women, and threw down their night-gowns
to them for covering, and from these the Hawaiian
women fashioned the costume of civilization which they
still wear.

Anyway, nothing could more become the Amazonian
proportions of a Hawaiian woman than the holoku,
with its simple straight lines, and it must be a blessed
relief not to have to bother with changing styles and
fashions, but just to be able to put on a clean nightie
and stick a fresh flower in your hair, and be ready to
go to work, or to a party, or a funeral.

In remote parts of the country there still exists a
custom that once was universal among all Hawaiians,
and that was to swap babies with your friends and


relatives. When a child was born, the etiquette of the
occasion demanded that it be wrapped in a piece of soft
kapa cloth — cloth made from pounding the fibre of a
certain tree into a pulp — and sent with your compli-
ments to your best friend. And best friend retaliated
by presenting you with her next olive branch.

Thus in a family to which ten children were born, the
parents would not raise a single one of their own, but
would rear some twelve or fifteen children, each one of
whom belonged to a different family by birth. Queen
Liliuokalini was one of these gift babies, and thousands
of prominent Hawaiians were reared in this manner,
and still speak of their " sister cousins " or " brother
friends," meaning the foster-relative with whom they
were brought up.

And everywhere, city and country, that you go in
Hawaii there is music, so it is curious to learn that
the missionaries found the Hawaiians almost tone-deaf.
They used only four notes, used exclusively in guttural
chants, but when they finally were taught to sing, it
seemed to uncover a well of melody that rolled up from
the throats, and found expression in the finger-tips of
a whole people. But if you listen you will discover
the influence of the missionaries on Hawaiian music.
Almost every Hawaiian air is reminiscent of long-metre

One of the interesting things I did in Honolulu was to
attend a luau, or native feast. A huge pit had been dug
and filled with stones heated red-hot, on which water
was thrown, and in this steam was cooked pork and fish,
each portion wrapped up in leaves of the aromatic ti
plant. The meat thus cooked in its own juices was
delicious. In addition, there was chicken stewed with
fresh coconut, which made a heavenly combination,
and poi of both the one-fingered and two-fingered
variety, and great bowls of luscious pineapple that melted
in your mouth and trickled all over your countenance.
Dead ripe Hawaiian pineapple is a thing to be eaten with


thankfulness on your knees and in the seclusion of your
own bathroom.

We sat on the ground and ate with our fingers, for only
the classy Hawaiians ever use knives and forks. After-
wards we were entertained by the most famous hula-hula
dancers in Honolulu, four large fat ladies in grass
mats, with phenomenal stomach and back muscles.
They wriggled and contorted themselves to a tune-
less tune, while a toothless old man rattled a gourd
with pebbles in it, and chanted a melee, a tradition
so old that it is forgotten by all save two or three
minstrels who still wander about singing the songs
of other days.

And I saw one of the saddest and most heroic sights
on earth — the going away of the lepers, and of those
whose love is stronger than the fear of death, and who go
to join their own in the leper colony, and bear them
company on their dreary way to the grave.

On one end of the beautiful island of Molokai the
United States Government has established a sanatorium
where those afflicted with this dread disease may have
what help science can give them, and be isolated so
that they will save their fellow-creatures from con-
tamination. The lepers may have homes of their
own, and their families may join chem if they wish, but
those who once go must stay. They can never come

No one knows better than the Hawaiians the horror
of that death that one dies by inches. No one knows
better than they, that if they go, they give themselves
almost surely to this cruel fate, and yet every boat
carries a number of men and women — mostly women
— who go to cheer the last days of some one in whom
they see not the leper, but the one who is dearer than
life to them.

The Hawaiian word of greeting and of farewell is
" Aloha." It means love, luck, good fortune, every-
thing of good-will that one human being can convey to


another. Lovers say it with kissing lips as they part.
Friends call it gaily to each other. Strangers shout it
to you on the roadside. The band plays it. And no

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Online LibraryElizabeth M. (Elizabeth Meriwether) GilmerMy joy-ride round the world → online text (page 1 of 18)